”Dragon”Tested Ma­te­ri­als

Popular Science - - BUILT TO OUTLAST: POPSCI 2018 -

It’s sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult to prove fire re­sis­tance in ma­te­ri­als—mostly be­cause it re­quires mak­ing a real-world-strength blaze with­out burn­ing down your lab. So Samuel Manzello, a re­searcher for the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Stan­dards and Tech­nol­ogy, helped de­velop what he refers to as “The Dragon.” (For­mally, it’s called the NIST fire­brand gen­er­a­tor.) In­ves­ti­ga­tors fill the 12-inch­di­am­e­ter, 5.5-foot-tall tubu­lar con­trap­tion with wood chips, which are ig­nited by two propane burn­ers. Used in com­bi­na­tion with one of the world’s only fire-re­search wind tun­nels, lo­cated in Tsukuba, Ja­pan, testers can cre­ate fire­brands that move at 32 feet per se­cond. This al­lows re­searchers to sim­u­late nat­u­ral con­di­tions such as wind-driven wild­fires that rush into ur­ban ar­eas. NIST used the Dragon to sup­port im­prove­ments in roof­ing to re­sist ig­ni­tion, and to sug­gest changes to Cal­i­for­nia’s fire code by test­ing the mesh size used to keep em­bers from en­ter­ing build­ing vents.

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